5 Qns with beneficiary-turned-volunteer leader Lee Yee Wen

01Yee Wen (left) and her buddy beneficiary at Y Camp Challenge last year.  

The YMCA of Singapore has prided itself on nurturing community champions who can do more for society. Beneficiary-turned-volunteer leader Lee Yee Wen is one such community champion. The 23-year-old was a student at the Mountbatten Vocational School when she participated as a beneficiary during a Y Camp Challenge camp in 2013. Since that time, Lee, who currently works as a teaching assistant, has volunteered with the YMCA on many occasions, and now sits on the organising committee of an upcoming Y Camp. We caught up with this extraordinary young woman to hear her story. 

Q: You were a beneficiary before becoming a volunteer. What were you like back then?

A: When I was a beneficiary, I didn’t have much confidence in myself and feel insecure. But after I met all the volunteers, I felt that all of them were very caring and patient. They made me feel less nervous and more self-confident.

Q: How did Y Camp Challenge change you, and why did you choose to become a volunteer?

A: As a beneficiary at Y Camp, I learnt to keep telling myself not to give up and as a person, I don’t like to do things halfway, so whatever I do, I will try my best and won’t give up even though it is a challenge for me. I will still keep on trying no matter what.

I decided to step up to become a volunteer because I like to help people, to do what I can to help those in need, to inspire people to become independent and grow. I feel very happy and satisfied when that happens, so if there are any other events that need volunteers, I will always join… because I find it very meaningful.

As a volunteer, I needed to step up to make myself talk. It is hard for me as I am a shy person, but if you don’t talk more to your buddy (beneficiary), you cannot bond with them. It changed me a lot. Becoming a volunteer not only helped me to build my confidence, it has also made me go from being a quiet person to being an outspoken person.

Q: And now you are a member of the organising committee of an upcoming Y Camp Challenge!

A: Being part of committee makes me challenge myself and try to do what I think I cannot do. It is good for me because I can continue to learn when I am in the committee, and improve myself to become a better person though this commitment.

Q: Who made the greatest impact on your journey from beneficiary to volunteer leader?

A: I would like to thank two people who have inspired me, made me want to become a better person, and made me believe that I can achieve my dream if I do not give up.

I want to thank my NorthLight School form teacher Mdm Wendy Yeo who has inspired me to become a good teacher like her.  As a student, you always hope you can have a teacher who will be there for you if you need help, and keep on believing in you no matter what you do. She inspired me to dream of becoming a teacher like her.

The second person I want to thank is the counsellor from Mountbatten Vocational School, Ms Chan Li Wen.  She is just like my sister. When I first met her I just want to get to know her better and understand her better because she is a nice person to be with. When you are around her, you will have strength to move on. I want to thank her for always being there for me when I feel like giving up, and when I need to someone to talk to.

Q: Any advice for people who are thinking about volunteering for Y Camp Challenge?

A: Yes. I hope more people can participate as volunteers for Y Camp, because it is very meaningful. If you volunteer for Y Camp, you also will learn as much as I did, and enjoy it very much like I did.


Contributed by Han Weichou